5. Drum and Percussion Elements

Determine the Drum Kit to use

The Drum Kit is also an instrument, with an infinite pallet of sounds.  To provide a greater understanding, Drum Kits can be categorised into 6 types.  Other qualities which can be suitable to help categorise include power, i.e. light, medium and heavy, which makes a total of 6 colours with 3 different shades each, or 18 categories.

Drum Timbre

The timbre of a Drum Kit can be classified mainly by the source and use of filters.  Certain timbres are more effective for specific genres, although you can mix it up a bit for originality.


1) Analogue: Raw, unprocessed live kit, either recorded directly from a live drum kit or sequenced.

Drum Timbre Rock.mp3


2) Electronic Crisp Hard: Analogue kit, processed electronically to create a tight and crisp kit.

Drum Timbre 2 Elec hard.mp3


3) Electronic Vintage: Electronically generated drums, e.g. 808, 909.

Drum Timbre 3 Vintage.mp3


4) Filtered Analogue: Filtered analogue drums with either subtle, e.g. modulation, vocoder, band pass or drastic effects, e.g. distortion.

Drum Timbre 4 Rock FX.mp3


5) Filtered Crisp Hard: Filtered Crisp Hard drums with either subtle, e.g. modulation, vocoder, band pass or drastic effects, e.g. distortion.

Drum Timbre 5 Elec Hard FX.mp3


6) Filtered Vintage: Electronically generated drums, with additional DSP.

Drum Timbre 6 Vintage FX.mp3


Percussion Style
World percussion can add a distinctive and energetic flavour to static beats.  The following examples sound effective when added to a House Beat or Broken Beat.


Jazz: light percussion, i.e. no big Snare or Kick.

Perc Style 1 Jazz Drums.mp3

[See Appendix 6a]


Latin: bongos, castanets and bells and life and an upbeat vibe.

Perc Style 2 Latin Drums.mp3

[See Appendix 6b]


World: bongos and tabla complement a steady beat

Perc Style 3 World Drums.mp3

[See Appendix 6c]


Industrial / Orchestral Drums: - e.g. movie drums

Perc Style 4 Industrial.mp3


Drum Extras
Additional sequences can enhance a standard drum beat and provide subtle variation.

Boom drums / bongos: Rumble boom drums with long reverb

Drum Extra 1 Boom Drums.mp3


Beat Box: Beat Box: Human vocals imitating drums

Drum Extra 2 Beat Box.mp3


Beat Band Pass / Ghost: Tiny filtered beat – treat like shaker percussion.

Drum Extra 3 BP Ghost.mp3


Beat FX / filter. Beat that is filtered drastically so it no longer sounds like a drum beat, but a sound effect.

Drum Extra 4 Filter.mp3


No Kick:Hat and Snare beat for breakbowns

Drum Extra 5 No Kick.mp3


Percussion loop: Hats / bongos - usually in house

Extra 6 Bongo Loop.mp3

Poly filler: Polyrythmic sequence to enhance a basic beat, i.e. provide a fuller drum sound

Drum Extra 7 Poly drums.mp3


Pre Beat: Pre Beat rudiments.  Intricately programmed rhythmic effects. (More details in chapter 8)

Drum Extra 8 Pre Beat.mp3


Beat Swish: Usually in house before the second Snare.

Drum Extra 9 Beat Swish.mp3


Beat Zaps: Zaps or bleeps, usually off beat to provide a fuller rhythm.

Drum Extra 10 Zaps.mp3


Simple percussion can provide effective additional rhythmic components to a simple beat.  The combined effect is a more danceable rhythm.


Bongos – steady: With the rhythm for a steady compliment

Percussion 1 Bongos Regular.mp3


Bongos – sparse: Against the rhythm and off beat to add intensity

Percussion 2 Bongos Sparse.mp3


Clap: Electronic or Real (Analogue)

Percussion 3 Clap.mp3


Crash Cymbal: Electronic or Real (Analogue)

Percussion 4 Crash.mp3


Cymbal Ride: Electronic or Real (Analogue)

Percussion 5 Ride.mp3

Hats real drummer: Different subtle/extreme timbres to emulate real drummer; a dynamic timbre greatly enhances the overall vibe.

[insert imagination here]

Hats regular: Quantised 1/16th drums that provide a precise, unnatural and clinical sequence.

Percussion 6 Hat Reg.mp3


Hats swing: Swing hats for a jazzy vibe.

Percussion 6b Hat Swing.mp3


Hats electronic: Micro sequencing 1/32nd or less.

Percussion 6c Hats MS.mp3


Bell Percussion: Metallic percussion.

Percussion 7 Bell.mp3


2 Tone: e.g. 1/8th note bell, electric bong, pop etc.

Percussion 8 2tone.mp3


Percussion FX: Any standard percussion with a filtered sound.

Percussion 9 Beat Filter.mp3


Misc: Anything that doesn’t fit in any other category.



Shakers Regular: With the rhythm for a steady compliment

Percussion 10 Shakers Reg.mp3


Shakers Sparse: Start on 3/8 to 7/8 of the bar.

Percussion 10b Shakers Spr.mp3


Shakers Analogue: Analogue recording of shakers

Percussion 10c Shakers Real.mp3


There are other percussive instruments available including Whistle, Guiro, Wood Block etc but they add an element of amateur General Midi composer.